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Stocks and oil tank, as safe-haven gold shines

IN THE NEWS TODAY

U.S. stock futures were tanking this morning, extending Wednesday's late-session sell-off after Fed Chair Janet Yellen, before a House panel, combined a steady-as-she-goes account on policy with an acknowledgement of intensifying risks. (CNBC)

Closely followed market watcher Dennis Gartman told CNBC this morning he believes the selling is going to persist. "I'm afraid it's going to get even worse," he added. "There's not a good tenor to be found anywhere."

Yellen goes back to Capitol Hill this morning, appearing on the Senate side, and the bond market wants to hear more about slowing interest rate hikes. The 10-year Treasury yield fell to around 1.56 percent, breaching a three-year low. (CNBC)

Oil continued lower this morning, dipping below $27 per barrel, dented by record U.S. crude inventories at a key delivery point, worries about demand, and as Goldman Sachs saying prices would remain low and volatile until the second half of the year. (Reuters)

Gold this morning surged to its highest level in eight and a half months, as investors bet the Fed would find it hard to hike rates this year. They also sought a safe-haven with equities and the dollar tumbling. (Reuters)

The dollar was plunging against the yen this morning, and that put further pressure on Japanese stocks, with the Nikkei losing another 2.3 percent for a sixth session out of seven in the red. Chinese markets were still closed for the Lunar New Year holiday. (CNBC)

PepsiCo (PEP) this morning reported earnings the matched expectations and revenue that beat estimates. The soft drink giant increased its dividend, but warned on full-year profits. (CNBC)

Cisco Systems (CSCO), late Wednesday, beat on earnings and revenue, pushing shares higher in the premarket. The networking equipment maker also increased its dividend and upped its stock buyback program by $15 billion. (CNBC)

Twitter (TWTR) beat on earnings and matched forecasts on revenue. However, Twitter shares were under pressure in the premarket, as monthly average users posted a decline and the firm warned on revenue. (CNBC)

Tesla (TSLA) lost 87 cents per share, compared to forecasts of a 10 cent profit. Revenue was slightly below. But the automaker gave an upbeat Model X forecast, and the stock popped in premarket trading. (CNBC)

Amazon (AMZN) initially saw bounce after hours, but shares were under pressure the premarket, after the firm unveiled a $5 billion stock buyback to replace a $2 billion program announced in 2010. (CNBC)

Mylan (MYL) is buying Swedish drugmaker Meda for $7.2 billion. Separately, Mylan reported earnings below estimates. Shares were under pressure in premarket trading this morning. (Reuters)

Theranos's main retail partner, Walgreens (WBA), threatened to terminate its relationship with the blood-testing company unless it quickly fixes the problems found by federal inspectors at a laboratory in California. (WSJ)

Yahoo (YHOO) announced its first round of job cuts in a planned move to eventually trim 15 percent of its workforce. More than 100 employees will be laid off as of April 11. (Reuters)

Boeing (BA) plans to cut jobs at its commercial airplane unit, in an effort to reduce costs and better compete with Europe's Airbus. Boeing did not provide a time frame for the layoffs or an overall target for cuts. (Reuters)

BY THE NUMBERS

The Labor Department releases its weekly report on initial jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. ET. Economists were looking for 280,000 new claims last week, down from 285,000 in the prior period. Then at 10:30 a.m. ET, the Energy Department issues its usual Thursday look at natural gas inventories.

In addition to Pepsico, Kellogg (K) and TripAdvisor (TRIP) are also out with earnings this morning. After-the-bell profit reports today include ones from CBS (CBS), Groupon (GRPN), Pandora (P), Zillow (Z), and Activision Blizzard (ATVI)

UPS (UPS) increased its quarterly dividend nearly 7 percent to 78 cents per share, and also named CEO David Abney to the additional role of chairman, replacing former CEO Scott Davis in that position.

Rio Tinto (RIO) scrapped its policy of never cutting its dividend payout from year to year, because of a challenging environment for the mining company.


STOCKS TO WATCH

Whole Foods (WFM) beat on earning and revenue. The supermarket chain forecast fiscal 2016 comparable sales would fall into a range of down 2 percent to flat.

Expedia (EXPE) missed forecasts on profit but revenue was roughly in line with expectations. But the travel website operator did give an upbeat 2016 profit forecast.

Zynga (ZNGA) matched forecasts for a breakeven quarter, but warned on outlook. The creator of the "Farmville" online game expects to release just one new game in the current quarter.

iRobot (IRBT) beat on earnings and revenue. But the vacuum cleaner maker's current quarter and full-year guidance were below Wall Street expectations.

Skechers (SKX) slightly missed on earnings but well exceeded forecasts on revenue. The footwear maker said 2016 sales were off to a strong start and comparable sales were growing in the mid-to-high single digit range.

Pilgrim's Pride (PPC) missed by a wide margin on earnings and slightly missed on revenue. The poultry producer's results were impacted by a bird flu outbreak that led to export restrictions.

Nokia (NOK) reported a better-than-expected profit for its latest quarter, but the telecom equipment maker warned of a negative impact from a slowdown in the key China market.

WATERCOOLER

In hedge fund news: activist investor William Ackman's Pershing Square Holdings portfolio tumbled 18.6 percent so far this year, according to an investor with knowledge of the numbers. (Reuters)

A Chinese credit crisis would see banks there rack up losses 400 percent larger than U.S. banks saw during the subprime mortgage crisis, hedge fund manager Kyle Bass warned in an investor letter. (CNBC)